Thu, Jul 26, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Former Bulgarian leader supports Taiwan's UN bid

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The international community should grant Taiwan membership in the UN and should not connive with Beijing to block Taiwan from participating in international organizations, former Bulgarian president Zhelyu Zhelev said yesterday in a speech in Taipei.

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy invited Zhelev to visit Taiwan and published a Chinese-language edition of his book Fascism, which compares communism and fascism and was banned following its publication in 1982 by the country's then communist regime.

The foundation held a book release yesterday to promote its translated edition. Zhelev gave a speech titled "Fascism and Communism: fraternal but not identical twins," recounting how his book was released despite the government's ban, and sharing his analysis of the two totalitarian systems.

"The reason that the book was banned at that time was because it acted as a mirror and in which they saw themselves as they truly were," Zhelev said.

Zhelev said that he was often surprised that people were less critical of communism than of fascism, adding that the two systems are essentially the same.

"However, long after 1989, no international institution took the liberty to condemn communism officially as an unlawful and criminal regime," Zhelev said.

Much of the international community learned its lesson about fascism and communism during the last century's tragedies, Zhelev said, adding that people had since come to realize that democracy cannot be founded on either an anti-fascist or anti-communist ideology.

"In order to be genuine, it has to be simultaneously anti-communist and anti-fascist," he said.

When asked for his views on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Zhelev urged the international community not to connive with the CCP in depriving Taiwan of its rights in international organizations such as its right to become a UN member.

Zhelev was a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party but was ousted by the party in 1965 for political reasons.

After the regime was toppled in 1989, he was elected president by parliament. In 1992 Zhelev was re-elected president in the country's first direct presidential election following the implementation of its new Constitution.

Wu Yu-shan (吳玉山), director of the Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica, who also delivered a speech, said that both Taiwan and Bulgaria were both fledgling democracies at a point where they must work to deepen their roots.

Taiwan can refer to Bulgaria's progress in its process of constitutional reforms, Wu said.

Tung Li-wen (董立文), deputy executive director of the foundation, said that Zhelev's speech was a solemn reminder of the countless lives that had fallen victim to fascism.

Tung said the world risked forgetting this tragedy.

"Looking back at history, we can see that democracy and democratization will always be an irresistible trend," Tung said.

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